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Electricity Supply

Volume 389: debated on Tuesday 18 May 1943

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Consumption, London


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how far the consumption of electricity in London has gone down owing to voluntary and other economies; how far tariffs have been increased to meet consequent loss of revenue; and whether he will devise a means of preventing the public from being thus obliged to pay for their efforts at economy?

It is not possible to assess precisely the many different factors affecting the consumption of electricity under war-time conditions and I cannot therefore give a precise reply to the first two parts of the Question. As regards the last part, electricity supply undertakings have not, since June, 1941, made any increases in their charges without the approval of the Government and I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend that the only grounds on which such approval is given is when the increases are unavoidably necessary to enable the undertaking to continue its function of maintaining supplies essential for the life of the community.

The hon. Gentleman has used the word "unavoidable." Does he consider it is right that the public should be asked to economise in electricity while at the same time tariff rates are put up; in other words that they should have to pay for their own economy?

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman can take it that there has been no great increase in the charges for electricity due to economy. He will also recall that there were complaints about minimum charges being excessive when they were about 15s. per quarter. An order was made later altering that to 25s. a year, which was certainly an advantage to small consumers.

Could we not economise in electricity by letting God's daylight into this House?

Palace Of Westminster


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works whether he is satisfied that the Palace of Westminster is receiving its electricity supply on the most favourable terms; what applications have in the past been made for a supply on a maximum demand basis; when, and how, did these negotiations conclude?

I am not satisfied with the terms for supply of electricity to the Palace of Westminster, and attempts have been made without success at intervals over a period of years to obtain more favourable treatment. A recent application for a revision of terms is still before the supply authority.

As this has been going on for many years, will my hon. Friend get his Ministry to take a much firmer line with the Central London Electricity undertaking?

Is not this building so wired that if alternating current were supplied the system would break down? Is my hon. Friend aware that until the Office of Works rewire the building so that alternating current can be supplied the electricity company will have to have a special installation to supply this building alona?

In reply to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, we will certainly press forward with all possible vigour. In reply to my hon. Friend the Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), I have discussed this matter with him on previous occasions.

Is not this building so inefficiently wired that they dare not put alternating current in the mains?

I might have to come to the House for a considerable sum of money to change it.

Have the Government considered the advisability of installing their own electricity plant?

Imperial Chemical Industries House


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, whether he will obtain figures to show the average price per unit, including fixed charges, being charged to the Government by Central London Electricity, Limited, for electricity used in Imperial Chemical Industries House, Millbank, and to the latter before the Government took over their premises; and the total bill per annum payable by the Government and by Imperial Chemical Industries, calculated at the average price charged to them, respectively?

The information in question is already available and forms part of the case on which my Ministry is seeking more favourable terms from the supply authority.